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ATPM 18.01
January 2012

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MacMuser

by Mark Tennent, http://www.tennent.co.uk

The Best Use for a Kindle

In the 1970s and 80s, Britain’s brewing industry underwent huge changes as small independent breweries were amalgamated into the large computer-controlled factories we have nowadays. This also meant the loss of some of the country’s favourite beers, replaced by bland brews that were made for shelf-life rather than taste.

They were truly dreadful, gassy drinks, which many would say tasted the same going down as they did coming out an hour later. CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, represented public opinion and became the most successful consumer group in Europe. The country saw the rise of small artisan breweries making beers with flavour as the aim, and slowly, public houses reinstalled their hand pumps and publicans learned how to tend to living beer.

There needs to be a similar movement to campaign for real bread. Even the best supermarket loaves have a list of ingredients including things you can’t even pronounce, let alone want to eat, unlike proper bread from artisan bakers who make bread for its flavour and texture using only flour, yeast, salt, and water. It is strange that the French, as a nation who value their bread, are buying soft and pappy loaves from supermarkets. The same bread would remain on the shelves and unsold in UK shops. This is in the birthplace of Louis Pasteur, where the French choose sterilised milk over fresh pasteurised.

In the 1980s and 90s, another industry also went through complete upheaval as offset litho and desktop publishing ousted the old hot metal presses. Designers replaced most of the people involved in printing who became redundant because their skills weren’t needed. Ten years later, content creation has become where the smart money is as desktop publishing is being ousted by digital publishing.

The recession has seen many publishers and book packagers move away from traditional, wet printing and into short-run digital output, but even they are being moved aside as the artisan book makers come to the fore. Armed only with a text editor, a modem, and a handful of ideas, they can get their books published and on sale at Amazon. It doesn’t mean that their books are any good, though.

This is how some see the new small Kindle. The screen size is limited, grey-scale, and without a backlight. While the memory holds a library of titles, reading on the Kindle’s screen is an acquired taste. However, I have found the ideal use for a Kindle.

Even with large amounts of time on my hands during a sojourn in the hospital recently, there was no way I could get into Steve Jobs’s biography; the book is just too large and heavy. We didn’t have a Kindle when I ordered it, so I’m stuck with trying to read a book the size of a family bible. Which, in a way, is exactly what it is: a bible for all the Apple disciples, of which I am one.

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